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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Iranian Juvenile Offender Milad Azimi Saved from Execution

Milad Azimi
Iran Human Rights (December 7, 2018): Milad Azimi, a juvenile offender who allegedly committed a murder at the age of 17, was forgiven by the plaintiffs on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Milad's death sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court a few months ago. 

The plaintiff had set a diyeh (blood-money) of 500 million Toman (approximately 50.000 USD) with the deadline of December 4. 

Milad's family were not able to pay that amount of money. However, the local human rights defenders and civil society activists could motivate righteous people to help to collect money.

Milad’s story


Milad Azimi is a juvenile offender who allegedly committed a murder at the age of 17. His death sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court a few months ago. The plaintiff has set a diyeh (blood-money) of 500 millions Toman (approximately 50.000 USD) with the deadline of December 4. Milad's family are not able to pay that amount of money. Therefore, if he fails to win the plaintiff’s consent, his execution will be carried out quite soon. Local civil society activists have been trying to collect money to save Milad's life.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) urges the Iranian authorities to stop juvenile executions and calls on the international community to act in order to save Milad's life. 

According to the IHR sources, a student was killed during a gang fight on December 8, 2013, at a high school in the Iranian city of Kermanshah. Milad was one of the students participating in the fight and was arrested by police on murder charges. He was born on December 21, 1995, and was 17 at the time of the offense.

Milad's case was sent to the forensic medicine which confirmed Milad's maturity. A close relative of Milad told IHR, “We were there (forensic medicine) at the time of the scheduled examination. Everything went so quickly. They just visited him for a short time and concluded that he is mature enough to take responsibility for his action.”

According to Article 91 of Iran's revised Islamic Penal Code, it is up to the presiding judge's discretion to deem the juvenile mature enough to understand the nature of the offense:  "In the cases of offenses punishable by hadd or qisas, if mature people under eighteen years do not realize the nature of the crime committed or its prohibition, or if there is uncertainty about their full mental development, according to their age, they shall be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter." Otherwise, the Islamic Penal Code puts the age of criminal responsibility at 15 for males and 9 for females.

Milad’s case proves once more that Article 91 has not resulted in stop nor even decrease of juvenile executions in Iran. From the application of article 91 in 2013 to the end of November 2018, at least 41 juvenile offenders have been hanged in Iranian prisons. So far in 2018, at least 6 juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran.

Despite ratifying the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran is the world's top executioner of juvenile offenders.

Source: Iran Human Rights, December 7, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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